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CEOs must start skills revolt

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A report has reveled that in a rapidly changing digital landscape, CEOs must lead the charge in re-skilling their people to be relevant in the future and ready to adapt to change.

A new report by Accenture Strategy cautions that in a rapidly changing digital landscape, CEOs must lead the charge in reskilling their people to be relevant in the future and ready to adapt to change. According to the report, Harnessing Revolution: Creating the Future Workforce, CEOs must be mindful to put their people first and at the center of change to create the future workforce.

The stakes are high for businesses, workers and society as a whole. Development of human skills such as leadership, critical thinking and creative skills, as well as emotional intelligence, would reduce job losses due to total automation considerably. The survey of 10,527 working people in ten countries and Accenture Strategy modeling shows that if the rate at which workers build relevant skills is doubled, the share of jobs at risk of total automation in the U.S. in 2025 would be reduced from 10 percent to four percent. The same progress in the U.K. and Germany would result in reductions from nine to six percent and 15 to 10 percent respectively.

“Paradoxically, the truly human skills, from leadership to creativity, will remain highly relevant and winning organisations will strike the right balance — leveraging the best of technology to elevate, not eliminate their people,” said Dr. Roze Phillips, Managing Director for Accenture Consulting in South Africa.

“Not only are workers optimistic, but they understand they must learn new skills. Digital can accelerate learning by embedding training seamlessly into daily work — so learning becomes a way of life — helping workers and organisations remain relevant.”

From the U.S. and France to Brazil, India and six other major countries surveyed, people are surprisingly positive about the impact of digital technology on the workplace.  In fact, fully 84 percent of workers surveyed are optimistic about the impact of digital on their job. More than two-thirds think that technologies such as robots, data analytics and artificial intelligence will help them be more efficient (74 percent), learn new skills (73 percent) and improve the quality of their work (66 percent).

Eighty-seven percent of these working people expect parts of their job to be automated in the next five years, ranging from 93 percent of millennials to 79 percent of baby boomers. Of those who expect automation, 80 percent anticipate more opportunities than challenges in how automation will impact their work experiences in the next five years. Additional Accenture research shows that artificial intelligence alone has the potential to double the annual economic growth rates and boost labor productivity by up to 40 percent by 2035 in the 12 developed countries examined.

Additionally, the values of today’s workforce will require leaders to respond with a different range of rewards, benefits and support. According to modeling undertaken by Accenture Strategy and Gallup, non-financial factors, such as well-being, engagement, quality of life and status are equal, if not more important to workers than income and benefits.

“Creating the future workforce now is the responsibility of every CEO. Those leaders who make their people a strategic business priority and understand the urgency of this challenge will be the ones that make the greatest gains in growth and innovation,” said Mark Knickrehm, group chief executive, Accenture Strategy.

To help leaders navigate and shape the future workforce, Accenture Strategy has the following recommendations:

Accelerate reskilling: From top to bottom, invest in technical and more human skills involving creativity and judgment, taking advantage of the fact that 85 percent of workers are ready to invest their free time in the next six months to learn new skills. Scale reskilling by using digital technology. This can include wearable technologies, such as smart glasses that provide technical advice and information as workers carry out tasks. It can also include intelligent software to personalise training that offers recommendations to support an individual’s life-long learning needs.

Redesign work to unlock human potential: Co-create role-based, gig-like employment opportunities to satisfy workers’ demands for more varied work and flexible arrangements. Develop platforms through which a range of resources and services can be offered to employees and freelancers alike in order to create a compelling community that keeps top talent loyal.

Strengthen the talent pipeline from its source: Address industry-wide skills shortages by supporting longer term, collective solutions. These include public private partnerships designed to create a broad adoption of skills training. Work with the education sector to design curricula that develop relevant skills at the beginning of the talent supply chain.

 

Methodology

Accenture combined quantitative and qualitative research techniques in order to analyse how responsive and responsible leadership could help create the Future Workforce. The research program is built on three pillars of a survey, econometric modelling and an index, complimented by extensive secondary research and in-depth interviews with leading experts from universities, start-ups, large corporations and government organisations.

The online survey was conducted in the U.S., Brazil, U.K., France, Germany, Australia, Italy, India, Japan and Turkey of 10,527 workers across skill levels and generations. The survey was conducted between November 26 and December 9, 2016.

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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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